Bachelor Recap: We Are Family

Last night, I received this message from my childhood friend Chance:

“Lincee. Kathryn just made me watch The Bachelor. I couldn’t have been more uncomfortable even if I had to stand naked in front of our high school senior class. These are conversations that should never happen on camera. It’s so weird to talk to someone about love and marriage when the chick knows he’s dating three other people. I understand you do this for your website, but I need to know how you watch this every week. I have to cover my eyes. I may not sleep tonight. Call me. Bye.”

Dear Chance,

I’m so glad you either lost a bet to Kathryn or love your wife soooo much that you sat through two hours of painful dialog and uncomfortable editing. It takes a strong person to watch this show week after week and I like to think I’m made of something extra special when I sit down on my couch and subject my precious brain cells to frivolous reality broadcasting. Yes, there are times when I shout ugly interjections at the screen and I have been known once or twice to hide behind a strategically placed couch cushion. But I press on for the sake of the website. A few things that helped me count down 120 minutes of last night’s episodes were: the hope of seeing Hotter Than Crap Brad shirtless, wacky antics of Our Host Chris Harrison in the confession room sponsored by Pier One Imports, spooky pipe organ music and the return of fingerless gloves. I’m proud of you Chance. Next time, feel free to skip the show and watch my AOL TV Squad recap. Purple crush pride. Peace out. Fellow classmate–1994.

SIMPLE DISCLAIMER
The following information you are about to read is of personal opinion. However, if you or someone you poked on Facebook happens to personally know, sort of know, is friends with the nephew/former classmate of someone who often purchases the Chick-fil-A cow calendars and looks exactly like one of the contestants on the show…none of this is personal and I’m sure they are all lovely people.

We open this week’s episode with Brad in New York City. ABC chooses not to divulge how or why they selected the Big Apple as Brad’s post-Anguillan destination, but he’s been there long enough to merit b-roll footage of him packing up his suitcase before retiring to the fancy hotel balcony overlooking the bustling city. He attempts to not look bored, or rather girly in his flat black cap, as a voiceover runs through a pro/con check list for each remaining woman.

A quick walk down memory lane and we are reminded of a few important details:

Brad: “Chan-tell is so different than the other women. She’s not timid. Remember the slap? Remember that time she wore Harrison’s shirt when it started to rain in Costa Rica? Oh my heavenly days that was amazing. Truly. But sometimes she can be emotional. And that worries me. But then I remember the feat of engineering it took for her jugs to not fall out of the red, mesh bathing suit she wore during the Sports Illustrated shoot and I’m good again. I want Chan-tell to be my wife.”
Lincee: “Dude. It’s Chan-tall. Maybe you should pronounce her name correctly before you get down on one knee.”

Brad: “I knew from our first one-on-one date that there was something special about Ashley. I mean, the carnies didn’t scare her at all. That’s amazing . Truly. But there’s a lot of reassuring going on and that is a major red flag to me. Good thing she’s so darn cute and bubbly because her energy is infectious.”
Lincee: “As a hat connoisseur, I have to say that your girly cap rocks.”

Brad: “Shawn-tall…”
Lincee: “It’s Shawntel.”
Brad: “That’s what I said. She’s great. We have an unsaid connection. There’s absolutely no drama. Truly. In fact, we don’t have to talk to one another at all. She kisses me when I least expect it, which is good because Dr. Jaime said I need spontaneity in my life.”
Lincee: “I’m not listening to a word you say because I can help but wondering if your girly hat comes in khaki?”

Brad: “And then…Emily. It’s just…I can’t…when I’m around her…falling hard…deep feelings…nervous. Hair…lilacs in a meadow…She’s…pretty…so pretty.”

First Hometown Date
Chantal O.
Seattle, Washington

Chantal waits for our Bachelor in a scenic park overlooking the iconic Space Needle. Wearing all black and lengthy Gryffindor scarf, she greets Brad by running across a grassy knoll and leaping into his massive, strong, glorious arms. It’s sheer luck that one of her ginormous hoop earrings didn’t poke an eye out during the entire exchange.

Chantal begins babbling about how she lives four streets down from her parents in the Family O neighborhood and that she eats dinner with them almost every night. I get the feeling Brad is distracted. Perhaps he’s struggling internally if the denim shirt coupled with a quilted goose down vest and dark jeans was not his most fashion forward moment. Or maybe he’s walking carefully on eggshells because Chantal has the annoying ability to turn on the waterworks at the drop of a girly hat. I can’t be sure.

Brad: “I’ve missed you Chan-tell. I love Seattle. I could see myself living here.”
Chantal: “Well when we live in Austin, we’ll have to come up here and visit as often as possible. At least once a week. Tuesday is laundry day.”

Brad: “Huh?”
Chantal: “Nothing.”

Chantal invites Brad into her home where they are greeted by Boca, the killer Pomeranian. As she cracks open a few Coronas, Chantal warns Brad that Boca will more than likely eat his face off. I was looking forward to an action sequence, but not such luck. Instead, Boca sits on Brad’s lap and rolls over to have his belly scratched. Chantal is happily surprised. And a little jealous. She introduces him to the remaining members of the animal kingdom living in her mustard-colored living room, including two cats, a miniature pig, a family of hamsters, a potty trained rabbit and an albino rooster. She shoves Boca onto the gleaming hard wood floor that ironically hasn’t been touched for three weeks and sidles up next to our Bachelor.

Brad: “So…should you move to Austin, who would be making the trip with you?”
Chantal: “What do you mean Brad?”

Brad: “Well. I live in a humble loft in downtown Austin.”
Chantal: “What do you mean you live in a loft? How many closets do you have?”

Brad: “Technically, I have two.”
Chantal: “One in your bedroom and one in the hall that holds your vacuum and goose down quilted vests?”

Brad: “That would be correct.”
Chantal: “Well it’s simple. We’ll have to move. The animals and I need space. And lots of it. Let’s go meet Daddy!”

During the four blocks and 45 seconds of drive time, Brad begins to get nervous about meeting the family.

Brad: “Meeting a woman’s father is huge. If we settle down, we’ll be spending holidays with these people. I wan to see if there is a connection.”

The SUV pulls up to one of the biggest houses I’ve ever seen. Remember that scene in Annie when they arrive at Daddy Warbucks’ house and Annie thought they were at a train station? It was the exact same scenario. Chantal picks Brad’s jaw up off the ground and shoves him through the front door that had been specially transported from a famous castle in Ireland. The Family O is waiting in the grand foyer to greet their beloved child. Mrs. O eyes our Bachelor, rings a tiny bell that resides on a special pedestal by the front door and a scurry of activity begins.

Mrs. O to Brad: “Cecille will pick out all your clothes.”
Cecille: “Red is his color. Nooooo. Blue I think.”

Mrs. O to Brad: “Your hot tub’s drawn by Mrs. Greer.”
Mrs. Greer: “Soap. Nooooo. Bubbles I think.”

Mrs. O to Brad: “Annette comes in to make your bed.”
Annette: “The flannel? No the rubber sheets I think.”

Brad: “I think I’m gonna like it here.

The group makes their way to the south 40 and Brad finds great pleasure in telling Mrs. O that her daughter slapped him on national TV when she first exited the limo. Had Mrs. O not been “refreshed” days before, we would have seen genuine shock on her face. She quickly forgives her daughter and warns the ruggedly handsome visitor that she has prepared a home cooked meal for this special occasion. And by home cooked, she means she selected the menu items from a list their in-house cook provided the day before.

After a quick visit with his daughter, Mr. O takes Brad out back to the east wing rose garden and points to a bizarre statue.

Mr. O: “Do you know what this represents?”
Brad: “Is that supposed to be Punjab?”

Mr. O claps Brad on the back, gives him a locket from Tiffany’s and explains that the statue is of a man carving himself out of rock. Get it? This statue is a self-made man…just like Mr. O and Brad. They wax and wane about how they both hauled bricks as kids, didn’t have father figures in their lives and how they come from the school of hard knocks. They talk about the future, having kids and how weird it is that they both have so much in common. The similarities are uncanny and Mr. O leaves with the feeling of little butterflies in his stomach. He’s giddy at the thought of his daughter marrying Brad and gives him his blessing. I’m pretty sure those butterflies were actually the early onset gaydar.

Back inside, Chantal is, you guessed it…crying to her Mom in the third floor library that is specifically dedicated for 20th Century fiction. I should have been listening to the conversation, but I was mesmerized by Mrs. O’s bold choice of deep purple eye shadow and wondered if she was covering up remnants of her last eye brow lift. If I were a betting woman, I’d say Chantal was droning on about her ex-husband and how she never thought she would be able to feel love again, but has found something special with Brad.

Soon it’s time for Brad to head back to the orphanage and he has to say goodbye to the Family O members and staff. Brad kisses the dead cheeks of the Mom, high fives the brother, thanks the cook for the casserole recipe, double clutch hugs the Dad, kisses Chantal on the forehead and goes back in for one more squeeze from Mr. O. Chantal asks a few guards to push open the heavy castle door and walks him to the car where they begin to REALLY make out. Mr. O blinks the lights a few times to remind Chantal it’s time to come inside for her Latin tutor and she bids Brad adieu.

Brad: “I don’t want to leave this house, family, town and I damn sure don’t want to leave Chantal.”

Second Hometown Date
Madawaska, ME
Ashley

Ashley waits for Brad in the middle of the road beside a diner. It’s totally cool to hang out in the streets when you’re from a small town. There’s no danger of getting run over because no one drives over 25 miles per hour due to the fact that the town busy bodies will call up the sheriff and then he’ll call your parents and you’ll be grounded. Or so I’ve heard. Plus, most traffic is farm equipment. There’s plenty of time to hop off in the ditch for safety if you see a John Deere in the distance.

Wearing a fabulous raspberry-colored coat, Ashley spies our Bachelor and runs across the asphalt and jumps into his waiting arms. It’s easy to forget the black leather jacket with built-in sweat shirt hoodie because the eye is immediately drawn to the fingerless gloves Brad was actually wearing to keep his palms warm. They were knitted in an oatmeal color palette and would have gone great with my khaki version of Brad’s girly hat.

Brad: “I’ve missed you Chan-tell Ashely. I love Seattle Maine. I could see myself living here.”
Ashley: “Are you hungry? I have a special treat for you. Let’s head back over to the diner. Mind the hay baler.”

The producers scrounge up a few extras to make the diner look like it was actually open for business. Ashley mentions that they are extremely close to the Canadian border and then orders something that sounded like “quick sin,” which is a massive serving of fries covered in Cheese Whiz and brown gravy. “Quick heart attack” is more like it. Brad grabs a fork, gearing himself up to digest the plate of cholesterol. Ashley manages to simultaneously make fun of him for using a utensil to eat the quick heart attack and points out his crown when force feeding a grease slathered fry to a less-than-willing open mouth. When the waitress checks on her guests, Brad insists on speaking Spanish instead of French, opting for “si” instead of “oui” on more than one occasion. Brad finally realizes his mistake and laughs at himself. The audience does not because we laughed 10 minutes ago when it first happened. At this point, we’re just blessing his heart and hoping that the chee-vy fries don’t stain the ecru-colored yarn keeping his wrists warm.

After a quick complimentary colonoscopy, Brad and Ashley discuss how their alone time is typically wasted reassuring each other of the awesomeness of the other party. They agree to bask in the glory of their own fabulousness and head to the local market for lobster and vegetables. Brad is enchanted by the box that simply says “pay here” as he shoves a few coins in the slot in exchange for a bag of carrots and bushel of apples.

Finding my own thoughts way more stimulating than what’s happening on my screen, I begin to day dream about what it would be like if I brought Brad home to Hallsville. I wondered what we would do for the “town filler” portion of the date.

Let’s see. I need a meadow. Perhaps Bobcat Stadium would work? I could run across the 50-yard-line and then bite it like I did when I was 16-years-old and tore my ACL for the first time. Yes! That scenario has grass, me running and a bit of Lincee history. Excellent. I could take him to the Cafetorium at the high school across the street and show him the spot in which the entire 1991 Homecoming Dance participants circled around me and my date Kyle as we danced original choreography to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations.” Hold it! I’ve got something relevant to the show! I would go by First State Bank and tell him about the time my high school boyfriend sent me a rose through the drive thru tube and it ended up as potpourri on the other side. BRILLIANT! Lunch would be tricky. I imagine he has sampled the various selections from both the Sonic and Dairy Queen menus. We’d probably end up at the BBQ place where the owner serves chili and cheese smack dab inside the Frito bag.

We’d end up at the Hallsville city limit sign that has a huge picture of me displayed, welcoming visitors to the famous Lincee Ray’s home town!

Of course, that’s 10 years from now.

Totally janking my idea, Brad and Ashley take candid shots in front of the Madawaska sign and submit it to the editor of the Madawaska News Journal on the way to meet the folks.  Fingers crossed (because they are exposed) that it lands in the “About Town” section of Thursday’s edition!

Brad: “Meeting a woman’s father is huge. If we settle down, we’ll be spending holidays with these people. I wan to see if there is a connection.”

Sadly, Brad is neither a high pitched screamer nor a group hugger. He does have an instant connection with the tattoo sister Chrystie, but she fails to get him to take his shirt off to compare their artwork.

The ABC intern lugs Ashley’s parents’ barcaloungers into the garage so the Dad and Brad can have some alone time. Brad praises Ashley’s independence and drive. The Dad smiles proudly and reveals that Ashley is bound and determined to finish her degree and become a dentist. There will be no one barefoot and pregnant in the near future. Brad wisely concludes that he might be holding Ashley back from her dreams. He seeks out Tattoo for comfort.

Brad: “Is Ashley ready for this?”
Tat: “You mean getting a tattoo? No. I’ve tried so many times. Why don’t you take your shirt off?”

That last part could have been me projecting.

Ashley tells her Mom that Brad may be the one. The Mom squeals with delight and invites Brad to stay over forever.

Brad: “I don’t want to leave this house, family, town and I damn sure don’t want to leave Chantal Ashley.”

Third Hometown Date
Shawntel
Chico, California

Shawntel’s date begins with a shot of her darling black dress, brown cowboy boots, irritatingly long Ravenclaw scarf wandering the halls of the Newton Bracewell Funeral Home with Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue” in D-minor blaring from our television speakers.

Yeah. I looked it up. I typed in “famous creepy organ music” and there it was. Isn’t Wikipedia wonderful?

Anxious to see if Brad can handle her uncomfortable career, she runs across a gleaming Mausoleum into his arms and plants a wet kiss on his buttoned lips. (Using the same rules of when he is in a car passing a cemetery, Brad is trying to exercise the “no breathing” rule to the best of his ability.)

Brad: “I’ve missed you Chan-tell Ashely Shawntell. I love Seattle Maine it here.”
Shawntel: “Isn’t it beautiful? Wait until you see the grounds out back.”
Brad: “I meant that Chico was beautiful. My Mom loves your town’s clothes.”

Shawntel takes Brad on a tour, pointing out the crypts they will one day be sharing as husband and wife, the intimidating crematory and finally the prep room. We are treated to several shots of Brad trying to NOT freak out at a plethora of sterile hooks hanging from the ceiling. Somehow, Shawntel convinces Brad that lying down on the prep table is a fun adventure. She puts on a surgical mask and begins to describe in specific detail the embalming process as Brad lies there helpless.

She passionately talks about scalpels, blood vessels, the carotid artery, arterial solutions, jugular vein, drain veins, aneurysm hook, centrifugal pumps, formaldehyde, releasing of blood, and needle injectors.

Shawntel: “Do you ever think about death or how you are going to die?”
Brad: “At the moment, I’m thinking Miss Shawntel, in the prep room with the aneurysm hook.”

Convinced that Brad has thoroughly experienced the embalming portion of her job, Shawntel takes him to the crematory. She opens up the big metal door, flips on the fire and shares that she will one day be cremated. Brad turns a particularly disturbing shade of white wondering if Shawntel is going to produce a dead body. Instead, she leads him to the family room and explains that she is passionate about her job, has deep compassion for those who have lost loved ones and is sometimes overwhelmed by the love that can fill Newton Bracewell.

Thank the Lord that there are people in this world who can do what she and her family do.

Later at her folks’ house, Brad is seated at the dinner table with Mr. and Mrs. Newton, Shawntel and her two younger sisters. Even though Destiny looks 12, she must be 21 because she’s drinking wine.

Mr. Newton: “I am so proud of my oldest daughter for stepping up to the plate and taking over the business. Everyone in the community is counting on her to continue the Newton legacy and after 40 years in the business, I’m ready to hand over the reigns to Shawntel!”

You could cut the tension with an embalming scalpel. Brad looks confused because he wasn’t planning on living in Chioc…no matter how much is Mom likes the clothes. Mr. and Mrs. Newton look oblivious. Destiny looks a little tipsy and Shawntel swigs half a glass of red wine before announcing her new life plan.

Shawntel: “Mom. Dad. Brad lives in Austin. And since I’m in love with him, I’ll be moving Brad and I’s relationship there when he proposes. I took a leap of faith and things are good for Brad and I.”

She finishes off Brad’s wine as he stares on in wide-eyed astonishment.

In the next scene, the ABC intern has hauled the Newton barcaloungers into their bedroom so Shawntel and her Dad can “discuss” the alternation of her life plan.

Mr. Newton: “It’s been our plan since you were nine-years-old for you to be the Newton in Newton Bracewell. You knew this before you left. What will the community do without you?
Shawntel: “I’m sure you will be happy to see Brad and I’s experience of new things in far away places. If he gets down on one knee, I’m saying yes.”

Mr. Newton: “This is a major u-turn but if it’s meant to be, then you have my blessing. DESTINY! GET THE VEIN DRAIN. YOU’VE BEEN PROMOTED.”

Shawntel walks him to the waiting SUV, kisses him passionately. Brad forces down a bit of vomit that crept up because he can still smell the formaldehyde when he turns his head to the right. He opens his Mad Lib and reads from the post-date page even though the sentiment is untrue:

Brad: “I don’t want to leave this house, family, town and I damn sure don’t want to leave Chantal Ashley Shawntel.”

Final Hometown Date
Emily
Charlotte, NC

We meet Emily on an emerald green meadow in the middle of a park. She spots Little Girl Ricki and they embrace in a mother/daughter hug. It wasn’t as good as Stephanie on the beach the time her kid knocked her down during Mesnic’s season, but it was sweet just the same.

Brad: “I’ve missed you Chan-tell Ashely Shawntell Emily. I love Seattle Maine it here Charlotte. This must be Little Ricki!”
Emily: “Hey sweet girl! Remember how you went to school and made new friends? I made new friends too. And he has come to Charlotte to meet you.”

Little Ricki’s BS meter begins to tingle like Mr. O’s gaydar. Even with Womack wearing a snug-fitting, muscle stretching, light blue Henley, Little Ricki would have none of it.

Brad bribes her with a pink butterfly kite. Still nothing. He tries to entice her with a box of animal crackers. She bites the head off a monkey with a vengeance. She doesn’t even answer simple questions asked by her mother. Brad peppers her with kid inquiries about bike riding and goose feeding and career choices. Nothing.

Finally, Brad convinces her to fly the kite. Sadly, it takes the motor skills of the five-year-old to get the darn thing in the air. She giggles. Brad takes credit and Emily lets out a big sigh of relief.

Emily invites Brad back to her mansion so he can see what a typical night would be like if they were in a relationship. Little Ricki heads to her Little Ricki suite and Brad follows. Her play room is the size of my apartment. And I have to say I would be quite happy living in the under-the-bunk-bed compartment where she puts on fake makeup.

The fake family plays Candy Land and draw pictures before Little Ricki is sent to her bathroom that’s roughly the size of a Marble Slab Creamery to brush her teeth and get ready for bed. “Mr. Brad” comes upstairs to tuck her in and Little Ricki growls at him when he touches her stuffed animal. Sweet dreams Little Ricki.

Emily admits that it’s nice to have someone downstairs with her after Little Ricki goes to bed. She fixes Brad a mason jar full of lemonade and a plate of Granny’s homemade macaroni and cheese. She bats her eyelashes, touches his knee and licks her lips, giving him all the signs that she is ready to pick up where they left off in Anguilla.

Now it’s Brad who is having none of it.

Are his thoughts with Mr. O? No. He has too much respect for Emily to make out with her while her daughter sleeps upstairs. Emily becomes visibly irritated and reminds Brad that if things work out, Little Ricki will always be upstairs sleeping.

Then it just became painfully awkward. Emily kept telling him that it was okay to be affectionate, but Brad kept denying her advances. He finally got up to leave.

Emily: “It was very frustrating that Brad wasn’t willing to kiss me. I decided right then and there that I wasn’t going to let him get out that front door without a smooch. Then I totally remembered that I had Brad’s balls from the beach in Anguilla. Silly me.”

Emily throws her arms around Brad’s neck and sticks her tongue down his throat.

Brad: “I don’t want to leave this house, family, town and I damn sure don’t want to leave Chantal Ashley Shawntel Emily.”

Rose Ceremony
Back in New York City, Our Host Chris Harrison counsels Brad in the confession room sponsored by Pier One Imports.

Brad: “I’ve missed you Chan-tell Ashely Shawntell Emily Chris. I love Seattle Maine it here Charlotte New York City.”
OHCH: “Brad. Enough with the Mad Libs. It’s me. You can speak freely. But keep it quick. I’m meeting Ludacris at the Boom Boom Room in five. Tell me about Seattle.”

Brad: “It was so cool. The house was out of this world. And there was this statue. And I had such rich conversation. I will never forget my time there.”
OHCH: “Got it. Mr. O is amazing. Any thoughts on Chantal?”

Brad: “Oh yea. She’s still cool for the most part.”
OHCH: “What about Ash? Does it bother her that you call her Ash?”

Brad: “I never thought about it.”
OHCH: “Moving on. Shawntel. Cue the pipe organ music.  She was creep-tastic.”

Brad: “She was, but I respect her passion. She loves her job and I get that. I’m passionate about owning bars.”
OHCH: “You and I know you are passionate about tequila. Speaking of respect, why didn’t you get busy with Emily? She was asking for it man.”

Brad: “I just wanted to respect her daughter, but yeah, I totally blew that one. You know, I just feel that…
OHCH: “Annnnnd time’s up. Let’s hand our some roses big guy.”

Harrison fetches the ladies and we are distracted by an array of interesting rose ceremony garb. Brad recites his prepared speech, but I can’t get over what these women have chosen to wear. Emily looks like she found a satin royal blue curtain in the bargain bin at Bed, Bath & Beyond and asked Andie Walsh to whip her up something special for the occasion. Ashley is sporting a frock you would have seen at prom about 10 years ago. Chantal’s skin-tight red and high bouffant hair is perfect for a waitress at the hip new 60s club downtown and Shawntel’s gothic black turtleneck short sleeve sequins combo screams creepy organ music.

Roses are handed out and Shawntel takes a moment to say her goodbyes. Brad walks her to the balcony, so “no one can hear,” forgetting that most American women between the ages of 22-80, along with Some Guy in Austin are about to hear everything he says.

Brad confesses that when Shawntel professes her love for him, he didn’t feel the same in return. It had nothing to do with the Mausoleum, crematory or creepy organ music. The prep table didn’t help anything, but that’s neither here nor there. He promises her that she will one day find a guy to respect her and sends her through the hotel lobby’s revolving door.

Of course, Shawntel spins back inside and tells him how wonderful he is and wishes him all the best in his love journey. Brad shoves her through the revolving doors again, follows her to the car and places her gently inside. Somewhere in Chico, California, Mr. Bracewell is cursing the television screen…his dreams of solely owning his own funeral home…dashed before his eyes.

Next week, we head to South Africa where three women have the opportunity to forgo their individual rooms for fantasy suites. Is it wrong that I’m hoping for disgruntled animals on the safari?

Until then, I’m all about the same, not the fame,

Lincee

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